“A lot of people will go home and call a bunch of their friends and raise more money,” said David Beightol, a Washington lobbyist and Romney fundraiser.
The retreat, which was closed entirely to the press, highlighted the degree to which Romney relies on deep-pocketed bundlers, whom his campaign has declined to identify. During the primaries, his campaign has raised 60 percent of its money from people who gave the maximum legal amount of $2,500, according to the Campaign Finance Institute.
Some of the donors here underscored the extraordinary wealth behind the Romney campaign. Malcolm Pray, a fundraiser from Greenwich, Conn., pulled from his blazer pocket a piece of paper with color thumbnails of 50 vintage cars in his personal collection, studded with such models as a 1957 Porsche and a 1961 Ferrari. He showed reporters a booklet summarizing his charitable work for poor children with tips on “How to Become a Millionaire,” such as “be patriotic,” “stay away from drugs and liquor” and “slobs do not become millionaires.”
This is the first large-scale retreat bringing together the extended Romney team. Campaign staff said they initially expected 400 supporters to attend, but double that turned out.
Several longtime Republican benefactors said this weekend’s festivities were more ambitious than any they had experienced, including President George W. Bush’s retreats at his Texas ranch.
“This is much more thorough. This is much more extensive,” said Brenda LaGrange Johnson, a former ambassador to Jamaica. “The Crawford events were speeches and barbecues.. . . This is a working retreat.”
“We get a lot of one-on-one time with Mitt,” she added. “I met him in 1994, and 20 minutes after meeting him, I said, ‘Mitt, you’re going to be president of the United States, and I’m going to help you.’ I just felt the spark.”
Among the special guests here was Bill Kristol, the conservative commentator who through the primaries penned sometimes scathing critiques of Romney. By speaking here, though, he effectively was dropping his arms. As Kristol arrived at the Chateaux at Silver Lake, he set down his suitcase, took in the mountainside views and exulted, “It’s not really work.”
For Romney, however, the weekend was work indeed, as he zipped around this mountain oasis in his Secret Service motorcade. Donors said he was noticeably relaxed, projecting confidence and seeming at ease as he strategized with his state finance chairmen, attended policy seminars on issues ranging from energy to banking to Israel and toasted the fundraising team at a Friday night cookout at Utah Olympic Park, near the bobsled track and alpine ski jumps.